SAULT STE. MARIE – All the power-play time in the world couldn’t save the Michigan hockey team as it lost to Lake Superior State 3-2 tonight at Taffy Abel Arena.
Though the Wolverines spent much of the game on the man advantage, including the last minutes of the game, the Lakers came out victorious thanks to standout goaltending from All-American Jeff Jakaitis.
Michigan (16-8-1 CCHA, 21-11-1 Overall) has not won a game since Feb. 3.
The Wolverines kicked off the special teams extravaganza with the first power play of the night, but struggled to get into an offensive rhythm and put up just one shot.
Lake Superior State (10-12-3, 16-14-3) had its chance minutes later with Wolverines Jack Johnson and David Rohlfs both in the penalty box. But Michigan had a swarming defense, forcing the Lakers to pass more than shoot for a scoreless 5-on-3 effort.
The Wolverines then drew first blood with minutes remaining in the first stanza on just their fourth shot of the night. Junior Chad Kolarik put the puck on Jakaitis. With Jakaitis facing Kolarik, the puck rebounded across to sophomore Danny Fardig, who chipped the puck into the open net for his first goal of the season.
Michigan followed with a fruitless power play to conclude the period.
A quality scoring opportunity for the Wolverines came later when sophomore Mark Mitera was found wide open near in the Lakers’ zone, but his shot zoomed high over the net.
The Lakers tied it up midway through the second stanza when Pat Aubry fired from behind the right faceoff circle. Wolverine netminder Billy Sauer was screened on the shot, and the puck sailed over his glove.
Michigan got its chance to pull ahead with a Jack Johnson slapshot on the power play, but it was deflected by a Laker defenseman and flew up into the netting.
Playing on the man advantage again, the Wolverines missed another opportunity when senior David Rohlfs stumbled on a hard wrister from the left faceoff circle. Johnson let another slapshot loose, this time flying right. It was Michigan’s 18th straight power play without scoring, tying a season record.
Drama arose in the third stanza when sophomore Andrew Cogliano was tripped as he streaked toward the net. A trainer attended to him and he skated to the bench soon after, continuing to play as normal.
The Laker tripping penalty and a call for too many men on the ice gave Michigan a 5-on-3 advantage, but Jakaitis handled everything the Wolverines threw his way once again to keep the scored tied at one.
Another Johnson slapshot gave Michigan a chance later, but the ping of the post told the 3,000-strong crowd that the puck didn’t go in.
The Lakers took the lead with a power-play goal halfway through the third period as a scrum in front of the net – with five Lakers in the crease – pressured Sauer onto his back. The play was reviewed but stood as called.
Michigan got the equalizer with a power-play goal if its own soon after when Kolarik used a spin move to slide the puck between the left post and Jakaitis’s skate.
Lake Superior State responded quickly by flicking a rebound stickside on Sauer to pull ahead 3-2.
The Wolverines got the last chance to fight back when the a Laker was issued a game misconduct for checking from behind, putting Michigan on the man advantage for the rest of the game.
Senior T.J. Hensick gave it his best with a breakaway shot that hit the post to conclude the game.